An unprecedented Picasso exhibition opened last week in Senegal’s capital Dakar, where about a dozen of the Spanish master’s works are displayed alongside African art, from which he drew inspiration.
A pioneering modern artist who died in France in 1973, Picasso left behind a vast and influential body of work including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics.
He was one of the founders of the Cubist movement, and was heavily inspired by African art, with the influence notable in seminal paintings such as “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.”
However, Picasso’s interest in Africa remains relatively unknown in Senegal.
An art historian and one of the curators of the Dakar exhibition, El Hadji Malick Ndiaye said that every African should be proud of how the continent’s art had inspired Picasso.
Visitors should leave with “a sense of pride in what the continent’s artists have given, and in the diversity of styles that have generated new forms and nourished modern art,” he said.
The exhibition sees about 15 of Picasso’s works hosted in Dakar’s Museum of Black Civilizations, on loan from Paris.
Alongside them are displayed works of African art, such as otherworldly traditional masks, which so fascinated the influential artist.
According to the exhibition curators, Picasso’s interest in African art began with a 1907 visit to the Trocadero Ethnological Museum in Paris, which has since closed.
The same year, he painted “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” which features five female nudes, two of whom are depicted with faces that bear striking similarities to traditional African masks.
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